Accord responds to consultations on RE and PSHE

July 24, 2009

Accord has used the opportunity of a government consultation on Religious Education to make clear the need for broad-based and balanced RE in all schools. Although RE must be taught in all schools it is not part of the National Curriculum. The government is about to issue new guidance on how the subject should be taught, but as the guidance is non-statutory it does not have to be followed.

Accord’s response to the consultation pointed out that if faith schools are able to write their own RE syllabus and teach the subject from the perspective of their own religion then national policies promoting balance and community cohesion in RE could count for little in practice.

Accord has also argued that non-religious beliefs deserve to be taught and discussed in RE and that there needs to be clearer guidance about how schools should treat children who have been withdrawn from RE by their parents.
Although the scope of the consultation has been limited to asking what form the non-statutory guidance should take, Accord also took the opportunity to make the case for RE becoming a National Curriculum subject that teaches children and young people about religions and beliefs, but doesn’t teach them to be religious (or otherwise).

At the same time as consulting on the future of RE, the government invited responses about plans to make Personal, Health, Social and Economic Education a statutory part of the curriculum. Accord supports this move but is concerned that faith schools may be able to add religious caveats to Sex and Relationships Education. Our consultation response therefore makes the case that all schools should be equally accountable PSHE and that the lessons should be treated in the same way as any other National Curriculum subject .

Alex Kennedy is the Coalition Coordinator
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